We have a guard Dimetrodon. It belongs to the children who live in the flat beneath us. With staring eyes, gaping sharp toothed jaws and jagged sail, resplendently moulded in luminous yellow and orange plastic, it basks on the granite cube that acts as a doorstop for the outside alcove; a repository for any manner of garden junk that we don’t mind getting covered in spider webs and snail trails. No one has moved it. It seems at home there.
One morning last week it was gone. I thought at first that the twins downstairs had claimed it back, but then discovered it lying on its back on the concrete hard standing that used to be the base of a garage – in the days that cars were small enough to get up and down the alleyway at the back of the flats and whoever it was who lived here then had one.
Picking it up to restore it to its rightful warning perch, I saw that its front toes were missing. Something – a fox maybe – curious to see if this odd looking thing might be prey – had lifted it, trotted into the backyard and sliced off the most exposed limbs with teeth like razors, drawn a conclusion – two parts taste to three parts edibility – and dropped it before going off in search of new adventures.
So, for now, its back. No less fierce, but toeless and slightly humbled.